little town of Oberammergau in Germany has become world famous
for the Passion Play which it produces every ten year. One of
the chief characters in the play is Judas and the scene of his
remorse and despair is one of the highlights of the drama.
one performance, an open-air audience of thousands sat watching
the great scene where Judas bitterly regrets his treachery but
the chief priests only laugh at him: his Master is safely in their
power. Judas can do nothing and remorse turns his thoughts to
suicide. “To whom can I go? All is lost! he moans. The audience
watched in dead silence as Judas slowly turned away in utter despair.
Suddenly a little girl’s voice rang out loud and clear:
“Mummy! Why doesn’t he go to Our Lady?”
beautiful question that sprung so naturally from the heart of
a little girl summarizes in it’s own innocent way the tremendous
devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary which for centuries has been
a gloriously distinctive mark of Catholic life.
feel quite certain that we have everything to gain from a deepening
of our devotion to Mary, and I would like to see a much greater
effort in our own country to understand Mary’s special place
in the plan of God’s redemption.
as all the world-famous Marian shrines, for example, Lourdes,
Fatima, Guadalupe, are also shrines of intense devotion to the
Blessed Eucharist, so too, a clear appreciation of Mary’s
role in our life will go a long way in making us into fervent
and devoted apostles of Jesus. On the other hand, any attempt
to restrict or to diminish devotion to Mary will inevitably lead
to a lessening of the whole Christian life.
me, then, dearly beloved, in all humility but with equal clarity
since it is my duty to be a shepherd and teacher of the faithful,
apply here the beautiful words of the Book of Wisdom which the
Church so often applies to Our Lady: “What I have learned
without self-interest, I pass on without reserve; I do not intend
to hide her riches. For she is an inexhaustible treasure to men,
and those who acquire it win God’s friendship, commended
as they are to him by the benefits of her teaching.” (Wis
then do we venerate Our Lady? Simply because for us Mary is, above
everything else, a mother: Mother of God and mother of men.
course, as we all know, all this is based on the dogmatic fact
that there is but one Person in Jesus Christ, a Divine Person,
the Second Person of the Most Holy Trinity who, without in any
way ceasing to be God, became man through Mary. Jesus Christ has
therefore two natures at the use of the one Divine Personality.
early Councils of the Church which defended so stoutly the divinity
of Christ against the heresies of the day thereby defended also
the divine motherhood of Mary.
there have been and probably will continue to be certain untheological
exaggerations in the expressions of devotion towards Our Lady
cannot be denied but, in a world where so many people are influenced
by horoscopes and planets, it is hard to see that pious exaggerations
will do much harm.
be truly intelligent in our devotion to Mary, we should certainly
avoid all forms of superstition. It is also necessary to understand
that it would be wrong for us to picture God our Father as an
angry tyrant whose punishing hand is held back by the entreaties
of the Virgin Mary. Let us be clear on this point: a thousand
Virgin Mary’s could never begin to love us as much as God,
for he loves us only as an infinitely loving and loveable being
once we have set aside all these uninformed and exaggerated tendencies,
we can gaze with delight and awe on the extraordinary dignity
of this humble virgin of Nazareth:
God the Father she can look upon Jesus Christ and say: “This
is my Son, the Beloved.”
the Son, Light of light, can look upon her and say: “She
is a reflection of the eternal light, untarnished mirro of God’s
creative power, image of his goodness.” (Wis 7:26).
the Holy Spirit can look upon Mary and say: “ It is in you
that I formed Jesus Christ, first spiritually and then physically
and it is through you that I shall continue to form him spiritually
in men until the end of time.”
is the unmistakable plan of God, of the all-powerful God who could
have chosen so many other ways of bringing the world back to Him
but who decided irrevocably that the world would be saved only
through Jesus Christ who was born of the Virgin Mary.
Scriptures were not written to tell us everything. There are many
things that have to be developed and amplified by the intelligent
application of the mind to what is know. But what the Scriptures
do tell in very clear terms is the altogether special role of
the Virgin Mary.
Gospel according to St. Luke gives Mary a very prominent place
in the first three chapters which speak of the conception of Our
Lord, his birth and the events that followed. St. John shows her
as present at the very first miracle. He shows us Mary standing
at the foot of the cross when the world’s redemption was
being accomplished, and the Acts of the Apostles completes the
picture by recounting how the apostles joined in continuous prayer
with Mary, the mother of Jesus and the others. It is on this group
that the Holy Spirit came down on that first Pentecost Sunday.
complete the statements of Holy Scripture which are heavily developed
and backed, the Father’s and Doctors of the Church, pope
after pope, have extolled the greatness of Mary and held her up
for the veneration of the faithful. The faithful have not been
slow in responding, for, to us all, whether married or single,
man or woman, old or young, a mother will always be a mother and
we don’t have to offer anyone any explanation why we love
our mother. In fact, we would feel offended to have to prove that
we should love and venerate our mother.
why do I say that the world needs not merely a return to devotion
to Our Lady but a strengthening and a deepening of that devotion?
First of all, because of all human persons, no one fitted more
perfectly into God’s plan than Mary. So that every single
one of us can see in her the supreme example of what all of are
called to be: an element in the whole process of renewing the
face of the earth. Mary became truly involved- to use popular
terminology - in the renewal of mankind through the Pascal Mystery
of Jesus Christ. True devotion to Mary must therefore necessarily
consist in imitating her in this involvement. This is why the
externals of devotion - pilgrimages, novenas, hymns and prayers
- can easily remain separated from the really interior work which
God wishes to accomplish in our hearts and minds.
because the world and our own society are feeling more and more
the need of a mother. For the world and our own society have grown
violent and selfish and many are being left aside, many are being
forgotten. This is particularly true in the field of education,
and we have to thank God that so many of our teachers, especially
in our primary schools, are mothers who can give and are giving
that special tender loving care for which mothers have been so
we must pray that all categories of workers in the field of education
may see clearly what is expected of them, that they may cooperate
with one another and, with the blessing of Almighty God, bear
have to pray that there will always be full cooperation between
Church and State for the benefit of our children.
have to pray for clear-sightedness, for the ability to admit our
mistakes and the humility to correct them, for we must work not
to show who is better than who, but because that is clearly God’s
will for us.
may find a mother who is very devoted to her children and who
attends to all the cuts and bruises they receive from the stones
in the yard, and that is indeed admirable. But I am sure dearly
beloved, you will all agree that far better is the mother who,
if at all possible, has the stones removed from the yard so that
the children will not get cut and bruised.
am calling then on all to be truly apostolic. You cannot be truly
catholic unless you are also apostolic. It is not for mothers
that Mary is called Queen of apostles. She conceived Jesus for
the benefit of mankind. The virgin motherhood of Mary was an apostolic
dearly beloved, let us turn with confidence to Mary our Mother,
for gaining her is more rewarding than silver, more profitable
than gold. She is beyond the price of pearls, nothing you could
covet is her equal. Her ways are delightful ways, her paths all
lead to contentment. She is a tree of life for those who hold
her fast, those who cling to her live happy lives.” (Prov
3: 13-15, 17).
Divine Saviour gave us all that He was and all that He had, and
this gift included his blessed Mother. To each one of us Jesus
is still saying: “This is your Mother.” And He wants
us to do what John the beloved disciple did: He wants us to make
a place for her in our home. He wants to see her gentle influence
in our minds, our hearts, and in our lives.
her part, Mary waits like a true mother. She does not force herself
on us. She waits patiently, even for those who seem to have little
time for her, for they are her children too. She waits and she
prays: the Refuge of sinners, the Comforter of the afflicted the
Help of Christians. She stands there waiting to come to our assistance
as soon as we say the word. So let us say a word, let us all with
joy, with gratitude, with confidence, with love, let us turn to
her and cry out from the very depths of our hearts:
Mother! Mother! Mother!